A UFO That Fits in Your Stereo
“Variety is the spice of life,” or so the proverb says. But to Need New Body, a continuously evolving art project from Philadelphia, such a saying isn’t as much an adage as it is a musical bible. Meaning that Need New Body amplifies schizophrenia into sound’s parameters: it jumps and jaunts from new wave dance tunes to tear-filled folk to industrial-noise music before its sophomore album, UFO, is even a few songs in. But somehow Need New Body makes this genre-splitting adventure good all the way through as it glues its bizarre collusion of bipolar musical tendencies into an album that goes through more stylistic changes than songs (in UFO‘s case, 23).
There’s simply no way to dissect this album song in and song out, because Need New Body essentially gathers every instrument from 8 bit Nintendo effects to banjos to keyboards to pots and pans percussion and explores every musical tangent it’s ever had. It leaves no genre untouched: free jazz, new wave, industrial, folk, noise, R&B, dance, and piano tunes are all spliced together with each track taking you on an experimental journey.
Of course, with abandoning typical song structures and musical conventions, Need New Body can’t uncover every genre with as much precision and accuracy as it would like. However, many memorable moments arise on UFO, beginning immediately when the album forces you to dust off your dancing shoes with “Hot Shot” and its spastic new-wave-on-acid jitters. It’s one of the album’s best cuts, and also a complete auditory 180 from what comes next. “Moondear”, the following track, excavates classic Nick Drake territory with an acoustic ballad that is as surprising as it is good.
Other odd spots on UFO include “Red As a Bone” and its piano-led journey of rambling free verse poetry that eventually gives way to a 60-second ditty entitled “Turken Hogan”, which relies solely on beatboxing for its percussive blast. However, while Need New Body consistently transcends genre borders, what keeps its music coherent and complete is its impeccable rhythm section, which always creates a strong skeleton of beats and rhythms for the rest of the instruments to lay their experimental tracks upon. Perhaps this is why Need New Body thrives on the tracks that let it show off its new wave dance side, such as one of UFO‘s highlight tracks, “Popfest”.
Sure, UFO is experimental, weird, and bizarre, but it also illustrates a band that simply knows how to write great songs regardless of what genre they may fall into. Needless to say, next time you need a quick dose of schizophrenia, Need New Body holds your prescription in CD format.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.